Every DUI case in California is different and unique. Only an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer will understand how to assess each DUI case based on the circumstances surrounding it. An important aspect of this evaluation process is to determine whether the case should be taken to a jury trial or whether it would be in the defendant's best interests to accept a plea bargain.
It is, of course, the wish of some defendants to have their day in court and win the trial. However, there are many factors that come into play in any trial – witnesses, evidence, and most importantly the jurors who bring their own experiences and personal opinions to the table. If you win the trial, the case and charges will be dismissed. However, if the verdict goes against you, it is up to the judge to sentence you. Your sentence may depend on several factors such as the evidence, circumstances of the case, and any prior DUI convictions you may have had.
In some DUI cases, it may be most beneficial for a defendant to negotiate a plea. A plea bargain is a negotiated settlement, which takes place between your DUI defense lawyer and the prosecutor. How does this benefit you as the defendant? By negotiating a settlement, the defendant knows what his or her sentence will be prior to entering a guilty plea in the DUI case, instead of being charged guilty at the end of a case and held at the mercy of the judge's ruling. A skilled criminal defense lawyer, based on the facts of your case, can possibly get your charges and/or sentence reduced.
- California DUI Law
- DMV Hearings
- Negotiated Pleas
- DUI with Prior Convictions
- Chemical Test Refusal
- Chemical Tests
- Under 21 DUI
- DUI of Drugs
DUI Charge Reduction
Some factors that can be used in your favor when discussing the possibility of a reduced charge with a prosecutor include, low BAC, good driving pattern, good performance on field sobriety tests, cooperative demeanor, lack of prior convictions, and any weaknesses in the prosecution's case. Potential alternatives to a DUI charge include the following:
- Wet Reckless; California Vehicle Code Section 23103.5
- Dry Reckless; California Vehicle Code Section 23103
- Exhibition of Speed; California Vehicle Code Section 23109(c)
Most frequently, DUI charges are reduced to a "wet reckless" and a "dry reckless" charge under California Vehicle Code Section 23103. A wet reckless is a DUI charge reduction where alcohol was involved in the arrest. Some of the advantages of getting your DUI reduced to a wet reckless include less jail time, reduced fines and no mandatory license suspension. The disadvantage of such a plea bargain is that your charge is still "priorable," which means that if you are convicted of a DUI within the next 10 years, you could still be sentenced as a repeat offender.
A dry reckless is a charge where there is no alcohol involved. It will likely be treated as misdemeanor reckless driving. A dry reckless conviction is not priorable and it will not increase your insurance rates. However, it will give you points on your DMV record, which means that your license could get suspended if you accumulate too many points over time.
It is important to understand that DUI charge reductions are not automatic. An experienced drunk driving defense lawyer will know how to skillfully negotiate a plea in a DUI case. If you or a loved one is facing drunk driving charges in southern California, please contact DUI defense lawyer Daniel Kann to get a better understanding of your legal rights and options.